Tuesday, June 24, 2014

happy 3rd birthday, Ashlyn!

My second-born granddaughter, Ashlyn, turns three today.
What a snuggly, lovey little girl.
She also likes to dig for bugs and worms, even in a dress during a photo shoot!
Her spirited nature is magnified, naturally, by big sister Ari.
Playing, eating, painting, vacation, going to the library or grocery,
life is just a whirlwind with siblings close in age.
Ashlyn is sweet, loving, loves to eat, and especially loves her sleep.
She falls asleep faster than any child I've ever known.
And feisty, too. (What 3 year-old isn't??)
Best of all, Ashlyn was born into a family with LOTS of people who love her.
And I feel incredibly blessed that God gave her to me as a granddaughter.
I love you, Ashlyn. Wishing you a very happy birthday and 4th year!
~ Baba

Monday, June 23, 2014

happy birthday, Jill!

Happy birthday today to my dear daughter-in-love Jill!
I could never have dreamed the joy that my children's spouses
 would bring to our family.
Jill has accepted, encouraged, stretched and loved us.
She patiently puts up with our weirdness.
She no longer feels like an "addition" to the family,
but completely a part of us.
We are blessed beyond measure and so are our son Mark
and their children Lily and Ethan.
Being a wife and mother isn't easy,
but Jill has relaxed into the roles beautifully.
A birthday acrostic for you, Jill:
                                                         J - joyful!
                                                         I - inquisitive and industrious
                                                         L - laughter that is contagious
                                                         L - loyal to God, family, friends
I love you, Jill.
Have a wonderful day that includes naps for your babes!

Friday, June 20, 2014

so long, Roy

We lost a friend this week. Roy lived next door to our Michigan cabin and became our unofficial property caretaker. Translated, Roy knew almost everything about anything having to do with cabin and lake life and he patiently answered our questions and walked us through many a crisis. We knew next to nothing about lake life, but Roy was a willing teacher.

He taught us about wells and winterizing, snaking pipes, and how to evict skunks from under a cabin. Roy helped us put in and take out the dock, get the boat running, and helped Mark and Katie build a section onto the dock our first year. Roy called us one winter day when a howling northern Michigan wind storm had taken down three pine trees. "Taking care of it," he reported. Roy helped us cut down trees and clear brush, turned on the electricity and the fridge and opened windows so the cabin would be aired out upon our arrival. He tinkered with the plumbing and I don't know if there's anyone else who'll be able to figure it out.

Our key was on Roy's chain and he walked the property through the winter keeping a keen eye on things. And he asked about our kids, even just three weeks ago saying, "I miss seeing Katie up here!"

His chocolate Lab Cocoa was Roy's constant companion, whether accompanying him over to our place or riding down the road in the golf cart. I'd hear Roy whistle about 10 o'clock each night, calling Cocoa in.

We'd take him to dinner at the Hideaway, enjoying burgers and nachos together. And we knew that a visit from Roy meant a good, long conversation catching up on Presque Isle news. We learned to relax a bit more with Roy around.

Yesterday morning Bill awoke to a text message from another neighbor. Roy had died the night before in the hospital. His ongoing health problems, including a "ticker that won't tick," had caught up with him.

We will miss you, Roy. We'll miss your deep well of knowledge but especially your steady friendship these last 12 years. Though we thanked you many times, I just want to thank you again. Life at the lake won't be the same without you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

dandy dads

Oh how I love this! Christmas in Charlotte! After many years of boys outnumbering girls in our family, now the girls are the majority.
Anyhow, here we have Bill (dad and grand-dad),
Dan and Mark, dads of five altogether,
and David, aka "Uncle Dave" who all the kids love.
This Father's Day, I honor them all.
They work hard and are hands-on dads who change diapers,
fix breakfast, read stories, take them swimming, and wipe toddler tears.
No matter who says otherwise, dads matter in the
lives of their children.
 It's certainly the case in our family.
Honor a dad today. If not your own, then another.
Thank you, dads, for all you are and all you do.
And Happy Father's Day to my favorite dads.

Friday, June 13, 2014

no more belts

I've embarked on a de-cluttering, down-sizing campaign in the house. Several friends have offered this advice: if you think there's ANY possibility of moving, start NOW to sort, toss, organize, de-clutter and toss some more. Because it will take a lot longer than you can imagine.

We're on year 25 in our house and poor Bill is on the receiving end of my rants to SIMPLIFY. What is it with men? He seems very lukewarm about the whole idea but I'm telling you, the massive overhaul of our stuff is going to take awhile.

I've made a list to break down areas of the house. Closets (many), garage, files, laundry shelf (I have a laundry closet, not a room), and the biggest junk-collectors of all, the BASEMENT and CRAWL SPACE. I don't care to ever have a basement again since it's just a convenient place to put stuff we don't use: furniture, books, sewing machines, toys to be passed on, camping equipment, my mother-in-law's treasures, and Christmas stuff. No lie, we could easily let go of 90% of the basement.

Being in charge of the house, I made a rule a few years ago. As each of the kids moved out permanently (ie, marriage and/or house), they had to take all their stuff: baseball cards, school and sports memorabilia, clothing, etc. It worked like a charm with the boys, but daughter isn't permanently settled yet. And does she have the STUFF!

Oh and a side project is now on the dining room table: organizing 30 years of photographs. Can you spell O-V-E-R-W-H-E-L-M-I-N-G???

In an effort to self-motivate, I'm tackling easy areas first. Yesterday was the back door closet. This morning was our closet. Over the last couple years, I've whittled my wardrobe down to a minimalist level and to tell you the truth, it's wonderful. How much clothing do I really need? Liberating!

I did discover something that reminded me of my age: belts. The middles of middle aged women thicken, they just do. And a belt on a thick waist, if you ask me, resembles a cord around a flour sack. I mean, what's the point of calling attention to my grandma waist? I birthed four children for crying out loud, so I accept it and move on.

So out go the belts. And the unused shoes and sweaters. And on goes my campaign to simplify! I give you permission to ask me how it's going!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

love holds fast

I stepped into his room a year ago. Looking small and frail in his bed, my father opened his eyes as I leaned over and took his hand. Not the hands I once knew, but tiny and white waxy.

"Do you know who I am?" I asked. In the screaming, silent moment, my throat tightened. This time he might not know me.

"You're my daughter," he answered finally.

I spent that day at his bedside and knew for certain it would be
my last with him on earth.
The last day I would print off a name tag at the front entrance to Richland Place.
The last time chuckling as I tried to punch the right code for the elevator,
a procedure to prevent confused patients from leaving their floor.
The last time "going to dinner" meant heading down to the resident dining room to eat cabbage rolls and drink sweet "tay" with Dad. 
And the last time he'd say, "let's get some breakfast" at three in the afternoon.
And we did.
The last time I would sit, thinking of something to say to pull him
into reality and as he dozed off, shift my gaze to golf on TV. 
The last time I'd sympathize about the "bugs on the ceiling" or the prospect
of Dad "having a meeting about buying this hotel."

I can accept death. It's the journey of dying, my father's slow and painful slide to the end that haunts me still. His loss of personality, physical strength, and life quality brought me to tears each time I left him to drive home from Nashville.

Though I wanted to run, I held his frail hand and sat beside him for ten hours on our last day together, June 10, 2013. He slept most of the day and I thought of leaving.
 It wasn't my will that held me there nor even a perceived obligation.
It was love that held me fast.

One of the last things I said to him was, "Dad, do you love Jesus?" And at that moment his eyes focused on me. "I do, I love Him a lot." And my heart was comforted.

I arrived home the next day, exhausted. Bill, Katie and I ate dinner on the porch. All I could say was, "I hope you never have to watch someone as I have watched Dad."

God created us for eternal life with him. I rest in that.
But holding fast to the dying: hard to take.
Then again, it was love that held Christ, too.
Love held Him fast to the cross.

... everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:15

February 2013

Monday, June 2, 2014

dinner for two

Over and over I hear, "it's so hard cooking for two! I have so many leftovers." I will admit, going from six around our table down to two required some adjustment. But honestly? I find cooking for two a breeze.

Our first three children are boys. Ravenous boys. Well that's redundant, aren't all boys ravenous? I remember one night after dinner, our son Dan left the table and walked - I'm not kidding - straight to the pantry, opened it and stared in. "I'm hungry!" he declared. With appetites like that and grocery bills to match, our simple meals feel almost like vacation.

Leftovers? We adore them. When all the kids were home, I couldn't make enough food for leftovers to save my life. No matter the quantity, they ate it. All of it.

These days, a lasagna lasts for three meals. Crock pot chicken the same. Just a bit of meat left? No problem, just throw it on a salad and we're set. Our son Mark's opinion of salad was "it tastes like dirt." Boys prefer man food, I suppose.

Tonight we're having penne pasta salad. I took some to a friend for lunch, but it'll still last a couple of days. What's not to like about "pulling cold meat/salad" from the fridge, as Julia Child used to chirp!

And then there's laundry. Many times it seems I'm neglecting it because I do it so infrequently. But no. We have two loads a week, or three with towels and sheets. It's weird, I tell you.

I know so well that keeping a family fed and clothed can feel overwhelming and unrelenting. But take heart, young moms. One day your work load will decrease. But so will the slamming doors, yelling kids, and liveliness that only children can provide.

There's a season for everything, and without fail, seasons change.